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Could Australia win from Indonesia’s shock suspension of coal exports?

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A shock choice by the Indonesian authorities to droop some thermal coal exports to ensure home provide may have a flow-on impact for Australian miners locked out of the Chinese language market.

Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of the commodity, buying and selling as a lot as 40 per cent of the world’s thermal coal freight and sending 400 million tonnes in 2020.

However legal guidelines require mine operators to prioritise the state-owned home energy generator at below-market costs of round $US70 per tonne, effectively under the Newcastle coal futures for January which soared to a 10-week excessive of $174.

Indonesia has banned exports for January, disrupting as a lot as 30 million tonnes of coal, citing low provide ranges at energy stations it claims may result in blackouts.

The flow-on results are more than likely to be felt within the archipelago nation’s predominant buying and selling companions of China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

Aerial photo of Abbot Point in north Queensland with coal stockpiles and alleged discoloured water in settlement ponds.
Coal stockpiles at Abbot Level in north Queensland.(Provided: Gary Farr, Australian Conservation Basis)

MineLife senior analysis analyst Gavin Wendt stated whereas a shock to the market, the choice shouldn’t be a shock because the coverage mirrored Jakarta’s financial nationalist agenda.

“We have seen this prior to now, when it comes to current years, with the federal government limiting and successfully blocking the export of uncooked supplies.

“They wish to generate a value-added element, not simply be an upstream provider of uncooked commodities for export.”

Provide scramble

The choice leaves power-hungry India and China in limbo as Indonesia’s mine foyer desperately seeks dialogue with the federal government on overturning the ban.

China’s power woes have been exacerbated by its ban on Australian coal imports, with problem sourcing high-quality imports of each metallurgical and thermal coal from neighbours persisting.

Mr Wendt stated a possibility for Australia’s mine sector to re-enter China may comply with.

“I might assume that there is definitely the chance for a reopening of dialogue between China and Australia with respect to our thermal coal exports. It is determined by how sustained that is and whether or not Indonesia sticks to its weapons.”

Hay Point Coal Terminal outside Mackay, Queensland
Coal on the Hay Level Coal Terminal companies coal mines within the Bowen Basin, south of the Queensland city of Mackay.(Reuters: Daryl Wright)

Excessive costs to proceed

Because the post-pandemic financial growth exhibits little indicators of abating, the power markets are predicted to remain sturdy by way of the rest of the yr as uncertainty over coal, gasoline, and oil provide lingers.

“You may have to keep in mind, after all, that markets are already nervous going into the brand new yr concerning the provide facet. Demand may be very, very excessive,” Mr Wendt stated.

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